by Brian C. Joondeph
Donald Trump's upset victory is being attributed to many factors, from Hillary Clinton being a corrupt and flawed candidate to the rise of the angry white male. Never mind that Trump secured more white women support than did Clinton. Maybe it was due to the FBI investigations and Director Comey's schizophrenic opening and closing the investigations. Maybe it was Anthony Weiner entering the race with State Department emails on his laptop. Or the endless WikiLeaks revelations.
It was the Obama agenda on the ballot last week. Hillary Clinton's corruption was a sideshow.
What really gave Trump his victory is one person: Barack Obama. This election was nothing less than a complete and total repudiation of his presidency, his policies, his "fundamental transformation of America" that he promised and delivered.
Let's go back to 2008, the year Barack Obama was elected as the first black president, promising hope and change, along with a fundamental transformation of the country – transformation that was in the eye of the beholder. He would be the first post-racial president, mending the racial divide that had ironically already healed enough for America to elect its first black president. The economy was in turmoil after the financial meltdown a few months earlier. He was new. He was "articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," according to his vice president. He even had the "perfect crease in his pants," foreshadowing a great presidency to a New York Times columnist.
The 2008 election not only gave us President Obama, but gave the Democrats a majority of state governorships, 29 to 21. That year, Democrats also controlled the Senate, 58-41, a seven-seat gain. Democrats gained 21 House seats, increasing their control 257 to 178. At the state level, Democrats also won big, controlling both houses of state legislatures in 27 states. Democrats were on the bow of the Titanic, shouting, "I'm king of the world."
After Al Franken won a contested election and Arlen Specter became a Democrat, the Senate then had a filibuster-proof 60-seat Senate majority, leaving the Democrats and their leader, Barack Obama, with complete control of the reins of power. It was similar to handing Democrats Aladdin's lamp with unlimited wishes.
The first order of business was passage of Obamacare, without a single Republican vote. Republicans were shut out, sitting in the locker room while the Democrats were out on the field. The president, ever gracious and conciliatory, told his Republican opponents two simple words, which set the tone for the next eight years: "I won."
That was then. What happened over those eight years?
Obamacare. Economy in the doldrums. Record-low labor participation rate. Anemic economic growth. Iran's nuke program. Benghazi. Egypt. Syria. Iraq. Terrorism on U.S. soil. An open border. Unvetted and non-assimilating immigrants. A shrinking middle class. Arrogance from the ruling class, media, Hollywood, and academia. Political correctness beyond even what George Orwell envisioned. This is the real Obama legacy, the promised "fundamental transformation of America."
Along came Donald Trump, a brash and at times crude businessman and TV reality show host. Of all the 17 GOP candidates, it was Trump who recognized most clearly the state of Obama's fundamental transformation. He was also the one who succinctly articulated what needed to be done to fix it. Build the wall. Extreme vetting of immigrants. Better trade deals. Corrupt government agencies. Crooked Hillary. Making America great again. Everything the polar opposite of the Obama agenda.
A more moderate Obama presidency would not have transformed the country in such a radical way – more like a Bill Clinton presidency, which was decidedly liberal but not radical in the way of Obama's tenure. Bill Clinton was succeeded by a Republican president, but barely in a very close election. George W. Bush was not Donald Trump. He preached "compassionate conservatism," which was a different direction from the previous presidency, but not the bold new course advocated by Trump.
What has Obama's electoral legacy given us? The Republicans now control the Senate, 51 to 48. The House 238 to 193. Democrats control the lowest number of state legislatures in history. The GOP controls 31 governor's offices and 31 secretary of state offices. Republicans have majorities in 69 of 99 legislative chambers.
In summary, "[u]nder President Obama, Democrats have lost 900+ state legislature seats, 12 governors, 69 House seats, 13 Senate seats," according to GOP operative Rory Cooper.
This is the total annihilation of the Democratic Party. As a CNN commentator observed, "[w]ho thought Obama's legacy would be the destruction of the Democratic Party?" The Democrats paved the way for Donald Trump and Republican control of the White House and Congress.
It was the Obama agenda on the ballot last week. Hillary Clinton's corruption was a sideshow. The main act was Obama, as he himself told us: "Obama warned that while his name would not be on the ballot in November, all of the progress that the country has made over the last eight years was on the line." One man's progress is another man's calamity.
Indeed, it was Obama's "progress" on the ballot – "progress" that was already apparent four years ago but that Mitt Romney could not articulate and offer a rebuttal to. Donald Trump had the answer this cycle and prevailed. It's a healthy dose of antiseptic on the festering sore in Washington, D.C.
The Democrats, in disarray and chaos after their trouncing at the ballot box, are full of blame and excuses. The Russians. James Comey. Rogue FBI agents. WikiLeaks. Anthony Weiner. Anything except the real reason they lost: the legacy of Barack Obama.
Brian C Joondeph, M.D., MPS, is a Denver-based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
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